Poligags :: America's Fix Tank

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Month: May, 2013

The Tea Party is, too, political!

There’s been a lot of boo-hooing from the right about how the Tea Party was “targeted” by the IRS. The President said he was angry and that it was wrong. A hearing held on May 21, however, revealed that the Treasury Department informed Darrell Issa of these activities last August.[1] No one squawked until the IRS “outed” itself.

Therefore, it is our not-at-all-humble opinion that all this righteous indignation is theater. We also believe that ALL tax-exempt organizations should undergo scrutiny on a regular basis to keep everyone honest and determine whether they should keep the privilege of not being subjected to the taxation that contributes to our society.

There are more than two dozen different kinds of non-profits. We work with some of the more commonly known types. This doesn’t make us experts by any stretch, but to help them with their messaging campaigns, we have to know something about each kind and what they can do:

501(c)(3) – Charitable organizations

Strictly prohibited from engaging in political activity, contributing to political organizations, candidates, or PACs. May not establish or maintain a separate 527 political organization.

501(c)(4) – Social Welfare organizations

Promote the social welfare of an identified “community” for the purposes of civic betterment or social improvement. They are allowed to endorse candidates whose positions reflect their own. They may engage in legislative pursuits that will improve their lot. However, according to the IRS: “promoting social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

Donations may be received anonymously and in unlimited, unreported quantities. An interesting effect of the Citizens United ruling was that it established one authority that could regulate 501(c)(4)s: the IRS.

Becoming a (c)(4) does not require an IRS application, though; an organization may “self declare” by completing this form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/Form14449.pdf.

501(c)(5) – Labor and Agricultural organizations

This category includes labor unions, which may engage in collective bargaining and working toward better wages, benefits and working conditions.

501(c)(6) – Business leagues

Associations of people engaged in the same professions who work to promote and improve those professions. The category also includes chambers of commerce, boards of trade and football leagues. They may work to advance legislation that is in their common business interests.

527 – Political organizations

Political parties, campaign committees for federal, state, and local candidates for election and PACs subject to tax under IRC §527. They may accept donations that are reported consistent with FEC regulations; they may not engage in lobbying.

Source: IRS http://www.irs.gov/publications/p557/ch04.html and irs.gov/polorgs

Now that we know who can do what, let’s look at a few representative Tea Party events from the last couple of years, keeping in mind that the Tea Party groups are (c)(4) organizations:

May 4, 2013

Ron Paul at Tea Party event in Austin “We have infiltrated the Republican Party and we will convert the Republican Party into defenders of Liberty.” [video]

Sept. 2012

Tea Party holds “oust Obama” rally [article]

June 2012

Tea Party rallies before recall election with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Dana Loesch, Sen. Van Wanggaard [video]

Aug 2011

Tea Party supports Senators who “did the right thing” [article]

Now recollect what the IRS says: “promoting social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office” and try to reconcile that statement with the above examples. You can’t, because:

Acting like a virus and “infiltrating” the Republican Party might be construed as direct political action

An “oust Obama” rally might be construed as “opposition to any candidate for public office”

A rally in conjunction with a recall election in the presence of elected officials and others might be construed as direct political participation in a campaign AND working on behalf of a candidate

A rally to “stop the destruction of the country” and influence the outcome of an election might be construed as going beyond a mere endorsement

Liberal groups have endured IRS scrutiny, with Greenpeace, the NAACP and a church among those targeted during Bush II. All non-profits should be revisited as a matter of course to maintain their tax-exempt status. It’s been well documented that no Tea Party groups were denied non-profit status. The only Tea Party groups that have had their status revoked hadn’t filed for three or more years.
TP Tax Exempt Status photo TP-TEstatus_zpse3e58418.jpegComplaints may be filed anonymously, and we encourage their use if warranted. In the case of the Tea Party, someone did [2]. This could certainly trigger an inquiry.

We at Poligags don’t buy the story that rogue IRS employees “targeted” the Tea Party. For one thing, we know the political make up of the particular corner of Ohio in which this office is situated [3]. It is about as “red” as could be. The IRS is not known as a bastion of liberalism; if you drew a Venn diagram of local population and IRS staff, you probably couldn’t find two liberals in the intersect. Further, the IRS hierarchy is structured so that “front line” employees could not engage in unilateral action undetected by supervisory personnel [4]. Finally, the increase of 1,000 applications in just the year preceding last November’s election probably negates any argument that IRS staff had leisure time on their hands to go on a “search and destroy” mission for political organizations posing as social welfare groups.

Instead, the Tea Party reminds Poligags of the children’s story in which the mother hen plants, grows, harvests, and grinds the grain needed to then bake bread for her slovenly and ungrateful brood. The Tea Party wants to reap the bounty of America without contributing to the infrastructure, the programs or the cooperative governance that make it all possible. They are individuals who don’t believe in investing in a government that then socialistically “redistributes” tax revenues – particularly for programs to which they object. Instead, the Tea Partiers strive to minimize their exposure to or exempt themselves entirely from taxation.

What’s to stop each and every one of us from incorporating and then self-declaring as a (c)(4)? What would that do to the nation’s tax revenue stream? And who will outraise and outspend the other to buy elections? No. Better to investigate “wrongly” than to sink into that morass.

 photo RBReich_zps887ad82d.jpg

© 2013 Poligags
poligags.com

An Interview with Abbie Hoffman

Yes. We know. Abbie Hoffman died in 1989.

But we actually met him. We talked to him – in person and on the phone. We even attended a party he threw in Pacific Palisades. And, although he called our work “scatological,” he invited us to submit a graphic for use in his then up-coming book Steal This Urine Test.

We miss the guy (except at meal times – he was a bit of a messy eater) and thought it would be fun to imagine what it would be like to talk to him now about recent events and the political climate. So we pulled together some of the better-known quotes attributed to him (in blue text), and this is what we came up with.

Enjoy.

Poligags: The 2012 election cycle was the most acrimonious in our memory. What’s your take?

Abbie: You’ve got to resist oppression as you feel it. Don’t vote in a jackass – elephant – cracker circus. Let’s vote for ourselves. Everyone becomes a life actor of the street doing his thing, making the revolution by freeing himself and fucking up the system.

Poligags: What did you think of the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, specifically?

Abbie: I used to sayavoid all needle drugs; the only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon.Add Romney to the list! I mean, if this guy is God, then this is the God that the United States of America deserves. Look at his big accomplishment, Bain Capital. People had no alternative than to make war on machines. And, in particular, the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them.

Poligags: Since the election, the Republicans have realized that their “messaging” was not well-received by certain demographics.

Abbie (big laugh): Never impose your language on people you wish to reach.

Poligags: And, leading up to the election, the Occupy movement was very active. You must’ve found it gratifying to see people so engaged.

Abbie: Yeah. What young people have that’s vitally needed to make social change is impatience. You want it to happen now. There have to be enough people that say, “We want it now, in our lifetime.” We want to see banksters in jail right now. We want to see marriage equality right now. We want to see the war in Afghanistan stop right now. We want the CIA off our campus right now. We want an end to sexual harassment in our communities right now. Be adventurists in the sense of being bold and daring. Be opportunists and seize this opportunity, this moment in history, to go out and save our country. It’s your turn now.

Poligags: Were you surprised by – or would you have expected – the level of push-back the protesters got from the authorities?

Abbie: You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. When decorum is repression, the only dignity free men have is to speak out. Expedience, not justice, is the rule of contemporary American law. Same old story, different decade!

Poligags: Even since the election, there’s been a lot of dissatisfaction with the direction the country is taking. Do you have any advice?

Abbie: The key to organizing an alternative society is to organize people around what they can do, and more importantly, what they want to do. The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.

Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. And you’ve got to be truly committed. Smoking dope and hanging up Che’s picture is no more a commitment than drinking milk and collecting postage stamps. 

The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it. Understand that legal and illegal are political, and often arbitrary, categorizations. Structure is more important than content in the transmission of information. A modern revolutionary…heads for the television station. Or Twitter…

Look: the ‘60s are gone, dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock ‘n’ roll never as great. But there is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a ‘nobody’, giving it your all and winning! Just remember that it’s embarrassing when you try to overthrow the government and you wind up on the Best Seller’s List. 

© 2013 Poligags
poligags.com

Sequestration? What Sequestration?

On the heels of the super-fast passage of a law that solved the problem of their flight delays, Congress is now considering a law that mandates supermarkets to allow members of Congress to use the 10-item checkout-lanes, regardless of the number of items in their cart.  President Obama has been silent on the subject, but if Congressmen want to spend money, what are the chances of a veto?  See, Congress is able to solve problems – THEIR problems!